Former Kodiak teller pleads guilty to bank theft

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) —A former Kodiak bank teller pleaded guilty to the theft of thousands of dollars from a bank where she worked.

Lonetona Kalausa, 41, wept with her family as Judge Steve Cole sentenced her Friday to four months in jail as part of a plea deal.

"From my heart, I am so ashamed," Kalausa said in court.

Charges of fraud and falsifying business records were dismissed.

The Kodiak Daily Mirror (http://bit.ly/x6VDY4) reported the case began in October, when a surprise audit by supervisors at First National Bank Alaska revealed a $21,000 discrepancy between the amount in Kalausa's teller drawer and the amount she reported.

Authorities said Kalausa acknowledged taking about $10,000 in May for a trip to Samoa to attend a family funeral, and $1,050 in July to pay her rent. Court documents say Kalausa's teller drawer was short another $10,000 in July or August.

Ordinary audits failed to find a problem because Kalausa would put previously counted money back into the pile of money to be counted, authorities said.

"This is not the kind of case where someone is stealing to support a drug habit," said Suzanne Rapoza, a public defender. "She feels a tremendous amount of shame for what she did."

Kalausa must pay back the missing $21,000 within three years after her release.

"The problem with these types of offenses is they basically violate the trust relationship," District Attorney Stephen Wallace. "It is a tough sentence, but it is appropriate given the circumstances."


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